I was talking to a friend in Pennsylvania yesterday who was enthusing about how the temperature was up to 60 degrees and everyone was going crazy with the warm weather. I just came in from the same 60 degrees, wearing jeans and a jacket and thinking "is it ever going to warm up?" I wonder the same this morning as I sit on the back porch writing in my usual morning gear of shorts and tank top and freezing as the wind blows, piling up more grey clouds. I confidently thought that I could wait until next fall to order cycling arm and leg warmers.
As I wimp out on a ride, I wonder where Hannah and Tuula are this morning. North of here, looking at the same weather or colder and they have no choice but to pack up and head out on their bikes and continue their trek to Boston. I've thought of those two often during the last couple weeks and their calm acceptance of what nature and people throw into their path.
On April 19th, I packed up my bike and headed south to Amelia Island to participate in the Katie Caples Ride for Life, a charity event in support of transplant surgery. As part of my companies team, I was signed up for the 36 mile ride but was planning to try to make it through the 62 mile one. When I arrived at my friend's house I was introduced to two young ladies that were in the last stages of completing a 5000 mile ride across the country. They had started in Eugene, Oregon and gone south and then east across the US. Along the way they were stopping at various farms and promoting eating local and organic; collecting and swapping seeds, volunteering at community gardens and the such. Family and friends were sending out calls along the way for camping spots or a few days in a spare room to help them.
It was uplifting to talk to them and hear about all their (mostly) good experiences. It like all we hear about is young people self destructing and here were two that were taking a chance to grow and learn.
The next day dawned wet and cold and windy. As the Katie Ride participants took off for a few hours, the girls headed north. As I pedaled and fought the wind and rain and my feet slowly got colder and colder I thought about how I had a shot shower and dinner to look forward too when I got done. I wasn't even going to have to ride the 5 miles back to the house; Lynn was waiting for my call to pick me up. Those two were going to get o Waverly, GA and have to find a place to camp, fix dinner, dry out and try to warm up. At the halfway point for the 36 mile ride, I turned back, my legs were already feeling rubbery and I knew I didn't have it in me to go further in the conditions.
But I was still feeling cheerful. The way back was even tougher as I headed straight into the wind and the rain picked up. Up, down, up, down, push, pull, push, pull, mile after mile. It felt good, I had fun, I was smiling at the end.
That night I got a call and a request from the girls to camp in my back yard when they got to Savannah. They hadn't heard from whomever they were expecting too. "No need to pitch your tent" I said "my spare room is open to you". They arrived and spent an extra day exploring Savannah and when they left I rode along for a spell to see them on their way. Even though I completed the ride I signed up for I felt that I owed my supporters and myself another 36 miles and here was an opportunity to complete that. Through Pooler and Port Wentworth, across the river and the Savannah Wildlife Refuge turned out to be 18 miles. I said goodbye as they went toward Charleston and I headed back home finding the traffic a bit hairy but happy to have accomplished what I set out to do.
I'm ready to trade in my hybrid for a true road bike and start clocking more miles. Next year the century ride.